February 13, 2024

The 2023 New Business of the Year opened last January and has grown steadily since, expanding both their classes and studio space.

Wiloki Dance Center receives the 2023 New Business of the Year Award

David Jameson, owner of Wiloki Dance Center, receives the 2023 New Business of the Year Award from Chamber Board Member, Jacki Thurman.

When David Jameson, who had transitioned from student to assistant to teacher and eventually creative director at Karen’s Dance Academy, found himself at a crossroads as Karen Frantz retired and the studio prepared to close, he realized that was his opportunity to lead others to dance – and to God – through a new studio. From much “contemplation and prayer,” WiLoKi Dance Center was born. WiLoKi stands for Wisdom, Love, and Kingdom [of God]. 

The vision for WiLoKi Dance Studio “is to honor God through our work, ever increasing in excellence through a patient persistence, striving to achieve the highest quality dance arts education for our students, teaching them life lessons through dance by fostering both moral and performance character.”

Following a search for a location suitable for a dance studio, Jameson opened WiLoKi at 20 Northport Plaza, starting with 2 classrooms in January 2023. This January, Jameson began renovations on a third classroom in Northport Plaza to allow WiLoKi to offer a wider variety and increased number of classes.

Classes range from Tumbling Tots for ages 18-36 months and Mommy & Me, designed for two- to three-year-old children accompanied by a parent and combo classes for ages 4 to 6 years. For school age students, WiLoKi also offers Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Hip Hop instruction and several levels of Acro/Tumbling classes, plus upper-level classes in Lyrical, Contemporary, Jazz Funk, Dance Technique and Ballet Barre. The addition of the new studio will make Level 4 advanced instruction available, as well as provide space for the new Hannibal-LaGrange University Competitive Dance team to practice, under the instruction of Jameson. 

Christ-centered homeschool dance classes are offered during afternoons. A new addition in the fall of 2023 is Dance Classes for Special Needs (DC4SN), whose first student participated in the Winter Showcase Recital. DC4SN is led by specially-trained instructor, Jessica Lewis, as well as Rachelle Jameson.

WiLoKi has also had success outside the studio with their competitive dance team, whose 2024 competition season is just getting ready to kick off and looking to build on their 2023 success. In 2023, WiLoKi’s Junior Danceline received 3rd place for their dance and a judge’s ovation award in the junior division and the intermediate danceline earned a 2nd and a 3rd place with their routines. Dancers Katelynn Williams and Ivan Deal won first place in the pre-teen division at the Tremaine Dance Competition in St Louis, qualifying them to compete in nationals in Orlando, Florida last July, where they received 2nd place. Ivan also earned the title of Junior Dancer of the Year at the National Competition. 

Competition dancers benefit not only from workshops and competing, but also from guest teachers coming to the studio to share their expertise. But special guest opportunities are not exclusively for competitive dancers. In 2023, WiLoKi also partnered with the Andre Sheard Foundation to offer Hip Hop workshops at no cost to any student. In addition, the studio hosted several fun activities for kids, such as a parents night out dance party and a teddy bear dance clinic. The studio’s dancers also participated in several local parades, fairs, and festivals, including Juneteenth. 

In their first year, the studio served more than 250 students. At the end of the first full year, 40 additional students who are brand-new to WiLoKi have enrolled for spring 2024 classes. New additions in 2024 include private martial arts lessons, musical theater,  and eventually expanded dance, acting, singing and more – with the plan to become a full-scope performing arts training center. 

However, Jameson’s primary focus is not on the growth of the studio or the success of the competition teams, but on developing the students as people, teaching respect and perseverance – and most of all bringing those who enter the studio’s doors closer to God. 

When we were planning how to get David and Rachelle here this evening to receive the award, it became evident that they would not want to celebrate without the students and families who have also made WiLoKi’s first year a success, so we arranged to surprise David with news of the award at the end of WiLoKi’s winter recital in January. David shared “Above all, I am thankful to God for leading us, providing for us, and blessing us. I have a grand vision for what I would like to see WiLoKi become in the future, and I pray God would lead us into that if it would be pleasing to Him.”

Congratulations to David Jameson’s WiLoKi Dance Center, Hannibal’s New Business of the Year 2023.